Tri-metal test token die crack discovered

By Jesse Robitaille

An undetermined number of one of the Royal Canadian Mint’s recently released test tokens has been discovered with a prominent die crack through the centre of the obverse.

Several of the Mint’s tri-metal tokens, which were issued as part of “R+D Lab Collection” this October, were found with die cracks by at least two southeastern Ontario dealers shortly after their release.

“This isn’t just a minor thing,” said one of the dealers, Kirk Parsons, who’s the co-owner of Kitchener, Ont.’s Colonial Acres.

“A lot of collectors will come in with a little raised dot or a minor die crack connecting two letters together – something that’s not uncommon and that you need a magnifying glass to see.”

The newly discovered die crack, however, is different.

“It’s cool because it’s right through the middle of the token – it’s a huge crack – so it’s a big error. And you don’t need a magnifying glass to see it, which is great.”

Composed of multi-ply plated steel; an outer ring of brass-plated steel; and inner rings of nickel-plated steel (reverse) and copper-plated steel (obverse), the token was the Mint’s first-ever tri-metal piece.

It was issued as part of the six-piece “R+D” set, which has a mintage of 10,000 sets, and weighs 7.62 grams with a 24.65-millimetre diameter. Its die-cracked obverse design features the Mint’s logo on the copper-plated steel insert. The die crack crosses the centre of the token from top to bottom through both the inner and outer rings. Its reverse design depicts a maple leaf on the nickel-plated steel insert.

Interestingly, one of the 67 customer reviews submitted Oct. 28 to the Mint website – this from “Tweeze,” a collector from Hamilton, Ont. – explains “the tri-metal coin has a crack on the maple leaf side from one end to another.”


A die crack is a “result of a defect in the die which strikes the planchets forming them into coins,” according to an article in the November/December 2003 issue of Errorscope, the award-winning bi-monthly journal published by the Combined Organization of Numismatic Error Collectors of America (CONECA) since May 1965.

“Under tons of pressure for hundreds of thousands of strikes, the metal becomes fatigued and the steel die begins to crack. The result is an irregular raised line on the surface of the coin where the planchet metal has squeezed into the crack on the die.”


The tri-metal token die crack was stumbled upon “by mistake,” Parsons said, adding it was his photographer who actually made the initial discovery.

“We were cutting up sets for singles, and we sent them down to our imaging department. The guy that does our images was looking at the pictures and couldn’t figure out why there was a line through the token.”

The photographer checked his lenses and screen before looking at the token and noticing the die crack.

“He brought it to our attention, and we proceeded to go through our inventory and found a small percentage of our sets included the die cracks,” Parsons said. “We pulled those aside.”

The number of errors found “wasn’t a huge percentage,” he added.

“We order small batches at a time, maybe a few dozen sets.”

Once the find becomes public knowledge, Parsons expects collectors to be “digging through their own sets trying to find one.”

“It’s a substantial die crack, and it’s on a better set,” he said, of the test token set – something the Mint has issued seven times since 1984, when a four-piece set (Charlton TTS-1) was released.

“Historically, these sets have done well and hold their value – and some have gone up in value in the past – so it’s kind of neat to find an error on a better item like this.”

So far, Parsons has “only sold a few examples online as singles,” he said on Nov. 10.

“I haven’t sold any as complete sets yet. Obviously, when we get a feel for how many are out there and what the demand is, the market will dictate how expensive they’ll be, which we’ve seen in the past. If it turns out there are not a lot, then they’ll be more expensive. If there are a lot, it’ll just be an interesting error.”

Parsons added he plans to certify the errors with the International Coin Certification Service.

The error collecting community has “a big following,” Parsons said.

“A lot of errors are noted in various books and error-collecting guides, and a lot of error collectors will sift through our loose coinage at the store, looking for different die cracks and different little raised spots. Some aren’t actually attributed in most books, but it’s their hobby, so they’re looking for odds and ends, and there are quite a few of those around.”


  • Bill Morley says:

    I have 2 sets with cracks #01583 from the Victoria Post Office and #07162 from the Mint. John R indicated to me his set #02988 also has the crack. I believe these are “Packaging” nos. not Mintage nos. as the blending of the Tokens from striking to packaging would mean there are a lot of cracked sets if they are actually a Mintage no., the difference in serial nos. alone in my sets being 5579. So the Mintage isn’t all it’s “cracked up to be”. It would be interesting to find a # without a crack between these nos. As the cracks appear in sets that are now reported from Victoria to Southern Ont., the crack may be quite common. Perhaps someone has a partial or progressive crack. Happy hunting.
    Bill M. Victoria, B.C.

  • caughey8903 says:


  • tormedic says:

    I purchased my first set from the mint directly it was mintage 02457 / 10000 it was normal no crack,

    pick up a set with a die crack from another dealer month or so later and it it was mintage 02564 /10000 and it had the reported die crack.


  • 2o55328o7 says:

    It seems to me that the die crack variety is the less scarce. I purchased the last 2 sets available at a post office in my town, and they were both the the cracked die type. (set #02979 and #02980). From my perspective, it seems as though the “perfect” struck variety could be more scarce, but it’s hard to tell as the mint is sold out, and there’s nothing else available in my vicinity.

    Is anybody compiling a list or keeping track of the numbers? Please post something here.

  • mike says:

    The bad luck became the luck!

    I bought two sets between october and november. One have the big die crack and the other have nothing. But the no die crack on reverse have some dies and dots on the observe side.

    When the first time i saw this die crack on my the tri-metal token i called the RCM to returned the set because i tought it was a scratch. When they received my set they immediatly send me a new one. I opened the package and realized it have again the same scratch!! I tought they returned me the same set.

    I called again to return again and they gave me again a new label for the post. This time the employee asked me to buy immediatly a third set and said they will refund me when they will receive the second scratch set!!

    Suddenly, after this phone with this RCM employee i asked my self and said is it really a scratch? This scratch have exactly the same design than the other that i send to the RCM one week before. I take my 60x magnifying glass and surprise; it is a die. A big one. I have kept the set and the third set i received later have also the die on reverse. Now i have two sets with the big die crack and another without it. Number 08511, 09394 09825.

    I think the set without the big die on the reverse is the scare set… We will see…

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